Joe Biden wins- alleluia!

I’m delighted. I kept checking the US election results in the same way I usually check the football results to see how my team, Celtic, are doing. I get it. I really do. I’m not American. I was not going to influence the almost 75 million polled votes for Joe Biden, nor the just over 70 million votes for Donald J Trump. For the last five years I’ve called him the moron’s moron. He is no more.

When the 45th United States President was elected, I said he’d won the biggest beauty contest in the world. I naively thought that the scrutiny would unman him, even unPresident him. Like Narcissist looking into a pool of water he would somehow fade away. The opposite happened. The moron’s moron claimed, with some justification, he ‘could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters’.

20 000 Trump lies later, fact-checked by the New York media, we’re back in 2016. Trump didn’t expect to win in 2016. All his crooked-Hillary lies were in place for Trump to claim he should have won and could have won and he’ll win next time. Next time he’ll drain the swamp. The has-been President will find, once more, that Rupert Murdoch won’t be taking his calls. Fox New has already made that screeching U-turn and asked him—at the very end, when it’s no longer needed—to behave like a President.

The has-been President will find all that other people’s money he’s been using in a Ponzi scheme will begin to unravel. The buck will begin to stop here. And he won’t be able to pay his creditors. Especially, his foreign creditors.

What of the former President’s tax returns? That should make interesting copy and should at least keep the moron’s moron in the news.

Allegations of rape and sexual assault that have been kept at arm’s length by litigation and, like so many others such as Weinstein, Cosby and Jackson, by a wall of money. That should make good copy too.

We’ll be able to find out more about how Russia was involved in the 2016 election. It might even be worth looking again at the Senate’s roll in failing to impeach the former President for his role in tarnishing the current President.

We might even find out more how Facebook and Cambridge Analytical stitched up the Presidential election of 2016 and the Brexit vote by targeting voters. Despite this, no one much was calling the 2016 election fake news. Trump won, so it must be true.

All of these things may come to pass or may not. Truth is variable. I wish the very worst thing that could happen to the moron’s moron. We follow the lead of New Zealand Prime Minister—and not just in the battle against Covid-19—Jacinda Ardern, and refuse to name evil, give it a face, give it a voice.  Silence the moron’s moron. Not giving him house room. Laughing at him. Giving the peddler of hate and his childish rants the respect he deserves. That’s all I ask. Count the carnage of Covid-19. The moron’s moron… shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Sweet silence.

Greg Palast, How to Steal the Presidency and Get Away with It (scorecard) 2000-1

Al Gore, of course, won the 2000-1 election, but an unfamiliar word entered the lexicon – chad. An appeal to the Supreme Court called for a recount of the votes in Florida.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bush_v._Gore

Palast shows that following the 2000-1 Presidential election stories of African American voters being targeted, racial profiling, that excluded voters from the electoral roll weren’t fake news, but fact. He had a copy of two CD-Rom disks from the office computer of Katherine Harris, Florida Secretary of State. 57 700 potential Democrat voters named as felons. Purged from electoral roll in the run up to the election. 90.2% innocent of any crime.  Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush spent almost the entire Republican budget on a computer hunt for black voters. What Governor Jeb Bush did was illegal. He later ran against Trump for leadership of the Republican Party. I guess he’ll be back for another try.

My favourite quote here was Trump telling Rupert Murdoch he was running for the Presidency and Rupert Murdoch telling him, ‘no, you’re not’. That’s power Without the backing of the Murdoch corporation and Fox News, of course, there’d be no President Trump.

Ironically, former Governor of Florida, George W. Bush had a prior drink-driving conviction (misdemeanour) therefore he shouldn’t have been allowed to vote, for himself, or anybody else. That purge would have added or subtracted one vote to the 500-600 chads he won the election (minus the 57 700 he’d have lost by).

We all know how the moron’s moron did it. What he did was not illegal. Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook  took what was for him chump change,  most of the Republican candidate’s budget of around $44 million, and matched it with expertise. With Russian bot farms churning out memes and disinformation, Trump rode a wave of discontent all the way to the Whitehouse by winning the Electoral College, but not the popular vote. Hillary Clinton won more votes but lost the election.  

Florida signed a $4 million contract with DBT Online merged with ChoicePoint of Atlanta to purge voters. Cambridge Analytica https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambridge also involved in the Brexit debate tried to keep their methods secret, claiming it was private and commercial information, but were outed by Guardian journalists.

Nothing new from the Trump handbook, with Mark Zuckerberg again handling Trump’s funds for re-election.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/nov/02/trump-us-election-disinformation-russia

https://www.channel4.com/news/revealed-trump-campaign-strategy-to-deter-millions-of-black-americans-from-voting-in-2016

The historian and author Robert A. Caro magisterial (unfinished) biography of Lyndon B Johnson (LBJ) offers another tale of straight forward electoral cheating. Caro juxtaposes LBJ’s fight for a senate seat with ‘Mr Texas’ Coke Stevenson.

Nobody much is interested in Box 13, or that old stuff called history. The guys in the photograph LBJ showed a hostile reporter are Texans that stole enough votes and stuffed them into Box 13 so that LBJ could become a Senator in the 1948 race. A race Mr Integrity Coke Stevenson won. He was diddled. LBJ became Senator and, his gamble he’d be a heartbeat away from the top job of President paid off when President John F. Kennedy was killed in Texas.

That’s the traditional way of doing things in American politics. Kamala Harris will be the first female President.

Robert A.Caro’s advice was turn every page and do the maths. Four years ago I thought Trump could win. I no longer think that now. ‘Power corrupts’ argues Caro, ‘but it also reveals’. What it has revealed about Trump is an unclean spirit channelling hate for his own gain. Or in other words of psychobabble: a psychopathic narcissistic personality with low intelligence.

Trump is not leading the dis-United States to disorder and disaster. Any politician can do that from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush. Trump is the disaster. The risk of Armageddon is lessened with him gone.  Everything Trump touches turns to shit is the closest thing to the truth I’ve heard about the 45th President. We can sleep in our beds more soundly with him gone. That’s a starting point. Not a finishing point. Go Joe Biden. Go. There can be no neutrals in the American election of the 46th President. Mankind depends on it.

Natural Justice.

Natural justice isn’t something we spend a lot of time thinking about. Years ago when I was working on the roofs with Kenny Smith, he got paid more money than me. Let’s say he got £65 and I got £50 per week.  He was a roofer and time-served, could measure the roof out and bang down tiles quicker than a labourer. I accepted he should get more than me, which isn’t the same as liking it. We travelled together on the train and came home together, but one week I asked him how much expenses he got.

I can’t remember how much more Kenny got, but let’s say he said he got six quid more than me. I thought it was a mistake and when I asked the boss, he’d sort it.

The boss didn’t sort it, but he sorted me. Kenny was a tradesman. I was nothing. I could like it or lump it.

We’re going through the phony war with coronavirus. It’s something that happens in faraway places like China, then European countries and places a bit closer to home. We hear about people we know ‘self-isolating’ and laugh about it. Perhaps we’re more worried about whether Celtic or Liverpool should be awarded the league title. The idea of natural justice comes into these arguments. Partisanship and different biases dictating what position you take.   

Those most skilled in the use of rhetoric know the best position to take is to claim the moral high ground. In the biography of Lyndon Johnson, for example, United States Senators such as Richard Russell urged other Southern Senators to moderate their language (for public consumption) and talk about civil rights and  reframe arguments about hating niggers and willing to start another race war before they’d give equal voting rights, equal rights in employment, housing and education. Russell promoted the idea of separate but equal. Claiming the moral high ground makes you look senatorial, while name calling—niggers this and niggers that—makes you sound moronic.

A timeline of the moron’s moron in the Whitehouse gaffes and ad-libs about the corona virus goes unseen or is largely ignored by his supporters who continue to believe he is doing a good job as President, while his detractors highlight not who he is, but what he is.

Ally Mc Coist can claim the moral high ground with his claim that, of course, Celtic should be elected champions, but only after they have played the remaining eight league games. Otherwise they would be given something they have not earned.

We don’t like giving people something they have not earned, unless of course, they’re billionaires like Richard Branson.

The Johnson government has until now had a pretty good run in their handling of the coronavirus. No gaffes, no outright lies, like Trump. The Tory government advices British citizens largely to self-isolate and wash your hands, which is good advice based on the current data. The next stage is shutdown. We’ve already begun that slow progress with schools shutting next week. Police and army clearing the roads and streets and a pass needed to travel.

 Chemist shops in Dalmuir, for example, are also busy as people stock up on prescription medicines creating a backlog and longer waiting times. Now we’re getting to the nitty-gritty with supermarket shelves clearing. My advice based on a dystopian novel I began to write years ago (but abandoned, like so many others) was don’t begin to panic buy until others begin to panic buy. I noticed the shelves in Asda are clear of most tins as people stock up. My thoughts weren’t how many more tins of beans I could squeeze into my rucksack, but what would happen to the foodbanks?

All of that stuff we don’t really care about because it’s not us, hits us. You can’t eat money. The vast majority of folk that start their day in debt and finish their day in even more debt (the working class) are separate but equal. People that rely on foodbanks have nowhere to go. An economic model based on the assumption that charity for the poor is a good thing, has quickly pulled the ladder up as wages go unpaid and business such a local pubs in Dalmuir go out of business, schools shut and nobody can offer childcare (while nurseries try to claim money for a service they haven’t provided—good luck with that). The sham of sickness pay coming under the Universal Credit government umbrella and  taking four to six weeks to process suddenly hits a lot of people hard, especially when they queue lengthens and they can’t get somebody to talk to on the phone. You find out the hard way that some people are expected to live on less than £100 per week and pay for everything else at the same time. Those people you looked down on have now become you. Usually that sort of thing doesn’t happen until you’ve got cancer or some other major illness and divisions of class and gender, for example, largely disappear.

Them has become us. Let’s claim the moral high ground. I deserve much more than they do—(fill in your reasoning here and apply for the next space on the defunct Jeremy Kyle show). It’s survival of the fittest.  As supermarket shelves clear and we fight over toilet rolls and steal hand wash from hospitals, we’re in the like it or lump it school and the harsh lesson I was taught as a teenager. Imagine, for a minute, you’re an immigrant, waiting to gain entry to another country. That’s not difficult for me as a writer. Perhaps it’s too much of a stretch of your imagination. Well imagine your mum or dad, being turned away from the hospital, as doctors and nurses practice triage on life support as they are doing in parts of Italy. Imagine your child dying? Or your child motherless? These are no longer storylines for would-be writers. These are the harsh realities of who lives and who dies. Who claims the moral high ground on the best of the terrible choices available?

Ask yourself is that fair?

Natural justice isn’t about legality, but morality. It’s about exposing lies and making the best of bad choices. The coronavirus has exposed the fault lines in our society. The lie of trickle-down economics that takes money from the poor and gives it to rich billionaires like Branson or Trump.  Let’s hope it changes it for the better in the same way the Beveridge Report changed post-war Britain. I’m pessimistic, but I’m still alive, so there’s hope. But if I needed intensive care and there was somebody younger than me that needed urgent healthcare and they had children, I’d like to think it is only right and proper they get first dibs, no matter how much, or how little money they had. That’s my version of natural justice. That was the kind of idea we had when we set up the National Health Service. But it also extends beyond healthcare, to life in general and how we organise our society. Natural justice demands much more of our society. Ironically, the coronavirus is a practice run for when global warming begins to bite.  

Risk, BBC 2 10pm, directed by Laura Poitras

risk.jpg

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b095vnpx/risk

I didn’t like Julian Assange after watching this programme, but I didn’t have to spend six or seven years filming him and his cult of followers, much of the time in the Ecuadorian Embassy, as director Laura Poitras did. It’s unusual for a director to speak directly to the audience with her misgivings about Assange’s motives as Poitras does. It’s the equivalent of actors breaking the third wall, while in character, and speaking directly to the audience from the stage. Poitras feels she’s being played and used by Assange and I think she’s probably right.

Assange reminds me of a slicker version of the moron’s moron in the Whitehouse, Donald J Trump. Ironically, Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange is fingered as the patsy behind leaks from Hillary Clinton’s email server while she was Secretary of State in the Obama administration and prior to running in the Presidential election against Trump. In 2011, the opening shots of Risk set in Norfolk (England) has Julian Assage having one of his team phoning the Secretary of State and asking to speak to Hilary Clinton. It creates drama for the camera. But if I phone up Buckingham Palace and ask to speak to Prince Charles the likelihood of me being able to do so would be extremely slim. I’d be speaking to one of his  flunkies. Predictably, that’s what happens. Assanges’s flunky speaks on the phone to Clinton’s flunky. But it’s claimed as a moral victory for Assange, because as leverage he claims to have access to 700 000 classified documents, 250 000 United States documents classified as secret. ‘We don’t have a problem,’ he says. ‘You have a problem’ when we release them onto the internet, which he did.

Fast forward to June 2017.  James Comey then director of the FBI testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee that there had been a sustained cyber-attack on the Whitehouse by a foreign power, Russia, that had close links with the Trump administration. Comey was sacked by Trump, allegedly for leaking state documents.

I googled a question. ‘What is Wikipedia?’   ‘Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia, written collaboratively by the people who use it. It is a special type of website designed to make collaboration easy, called a wiki.’

Wikipedia tells me about Wikileaks: [It is] an international non-profit organisation that publishes secret information, news leaks,[6] and classified media provided by anonymous sources.[7] Its website, initiated in 2006 in Iceland by the organisation Sunshine Press,[8] claims a database of 10 million documents in 10 years since its launch.[9] Julian Assange, an Australian Internet activist, is generally described as its founder, editor-in-chief, and director.[10]

 

The group has released a number of prominent document dumps. Early releases included documentation of equipment expenditures and holdings in the Afghanistan war and a report informing a corruption investigation in Kenya.[11] In April 2010, WikiLeaks released the so-called Collateral Murder footage from the 12 July 2007 Baghdad airstrike in which Iraqi journalists were among those killed. Other releases in 2010 included the Afghan War Diary and the “Iraq War Logs”. The latter allowed the mapping of 109,032 deaths in “significant” attacks by insurgents in Iraq that had been reported to Multi-National Force – Iraq, including about 15,000 that had not been previously published.[12][13] In 2010, Wikileaks also released the U.S. State Department diplomatic “cables”, classified cables that had been sent to the U.S. State Department. In April 2011, WikiLeaks began publishing 779 secret files relating to prisoners detained in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.[14]

 

During the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, WikiLeaks released emails and other documents from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta suggesting impropriety against fellow Democratic Party candidate senator Bernie Sanders, among other issues. These releases caused significant embarrassment to the Clinton campaign, and to Hillary Clinton, and is speculated to have contributed to the Democratic Party’s loss’.

The motto of Google is famously, ‘don’t be evil.’ The motto of Wikileaks, ‘We open governments’. The promise of transparency is always an easy selling point. Assange was teenage cyber hacker uncovering those hidden secrets of government departments. These are the guys that are wearing the white hats, cyber writing what was wrong and bringing it to the light.

Google’s dictum, of course doesn’t extend to paying taxes to governments or allowing competition. Algorithms rule the world. What you don’t see is what you get. Google are appealing a 2.4 billion Euros fine by the European competition commissioner for among other things favouring, not surprisingly, its own online shopping services. Facebook were fined 110 million Euros for using Whatsapp accounts as a Trojan horse for data mining individual’s preferences.  Apple, the richest company in the world, which provides much of the hardware to allow the software to date mine, was fined 13 billion Euros for having an effective corporation tax of 0.005% in Ireland. If you want to know how much power Apple has the ‘Double Irish’ wasn’t that the Irish Government wasn’t being cheated of tax, but they claimed they didn’t want the fine levied. The openness of a free society does not extend to the largely American conglomerates that peddle power and claim no allegiance (in theory) to any one nation. Donald J Trump, of course, spent almost all of his campaign funds of $90 million on Facebook fake news and tweaking accounts of potential backers and voters.

When we look at the power of transparency in post truth society, what do we see looking back at us but our own image. Assange holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy for six years, we know he’s a celebrity because we see Lady Ga Ga visiting him. The twin charges of rape in Sweden have been dropped. He claims this as a victory. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? is a Latin phrase found in the work of the Roman poet Juvenal from his Satires (Satire VI, lines 347–348). It is literally translated as ‘Who will guard the guards themselves?’

Juvenal was referring to sex scandals. Like misogyny and a hatred of government that’s something that runs through these high-tech companies and is in the foreground of the moron’s moron and Assange’s cabal. The guards that the rich Roman’s paid to watch their wives and keep them having sex with others, were the ones they were fucking. Transparency is always a good thing, but let’s start with ourselves. Truth is often not plain and rarely simple. I’m with Assange for greater transparency, but I don’t want less government, I want more. I want to tax the Trumps and those hi-tech boys that deceive us and manipulate the truth and mix it with lies. If that sounds familiar, remember those things called bonds. A bond was something established something you could trust.  There derivatives financial weapons of mass destruction. They were in plain sight. No need to hide them. Transparency wasn’t an issue. Complexity was. But somehow, in one of the richest countries in the world, the poorest members who had the least stake in the 2008 implosion, took the biggest hit and took the blame. Welfare. In a Post-Truth world propaganda has its roots in a lack of transparency, but more in a lack of power. Those without power know what’s coming and how they’re going to be hurt, but can’t do anything about it.  Assange might have opened up a Pandora box, but if you look who is in the White House and look at Russia and Turkey and Syria, what has he done? I don’t know. But I don’t like him. That’s my truth. We don’t judge things rationally. Again and again it’s been proven empirically we feel first and think when we need to later and construct a truth around it.